Category: travel

A WEEKEND IN ANTWERP

au pays des merveillesphotos by me

A few weeks ago, some friends from my erasmus time in Portugal came over for the weekend.  It was so nice to see them again after such a long time, and to be able to show them my new city.  We walked around my beautiful neighborhood Zurenborg, cycled through the city and admired Antwerp’s skyline from the roof of the MAS.  Soon I’ll finally have more time on my hands and be able to spend more weekends like this.

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ROTTERDAM & BREDA

via au pays des merveillesChassé Park Apartments, Breda, by XDGA

Right before I’m leaving on another short visit to the Netherlands (this time I’m going for the opening my friend’s photography exhibition called The Dwarf Empire, a tip for those of you who are in the neighborhood in the next weeks), I’m sharing these photos from Rotterdam and Breda with you.  Since this was a short trip with my office, we divided our time between eating and checking out architecture.  Not bad if you ask me. Continue reading

PRETTY THINGS: from Portugal

PRETTY THINGS portuguese design via au pays des merveilles

This blog post has been on my mind for so long, but it’s only now that I’ve found some time to actually finish it.  During my 5 month stay in Portugal (and the several trips I’ve made there ever since), I’ve discovered lots of Portuguese talent that I’ve been wanting to share with you, so here they are!

  1. Best Sunday Dress stands for everything I could possibly desire from a fashion brand: apart from working only with sustainable and ethical materials, they also aim at a sustainable design aesthetic by using simple lines and special details, resulting in items that are interesting and basic at the same time.  I own the runner shorts, made out of the softest recycled polyester and I wouldn’t mind adding more items from their line to my wardrobe.
  2. Wetheknot makes board shorts out of the textiles of broken umbrellas, resulting in unique items.  Also worth checking out: their limited edition backpacks out of quilted cotton.
  3. Raquel Castro and Francisco Vieira Martins, alias Alma Geméa (Portuguese for soul mate) designed this beautiful tea set for their product line ‘The Whistler’, named after one of the oldest cork oak trees of the world, which can be found in Alentejo.  The line beautifully mixes cork with ceramics and I’m absolutely in love with it.  Available here.
  4. Handmade Emílio Braga Notebook, with a cover made from vintage Portuguese wall paper and named after the founder of one of Lisbon’s best stationary shops which is now over a century old.  Available here.
  5.  Handceramics makes pan stands and coasters with prints inspired by the typical Portuguese tiles.  Available here.
  6.  Toyno is a collection of cardboard animals that are willing to hold your stuff for you, every one of them with their own personality.  Their office used to be located in my street in Lisbon and walking past it would always bring a smile to my face.
  7. White Tent is the brand of Russian-Portuguese duo Evgenia Tabakova and Pedro Noronha-Feio, which gives a lot of importance to sustainability and exploring new design concepts such as laser cutting, combined with a minimalist aesthetic.  Available on asos.
  8. I’ve already proved to you that Portugal has the most beautiful packaging, and this is yet another example: O Melhor shaving cream, after shave and soap by
    Confiança, a company founded in Braga in 1894.  Available here.

If you do happen to go to Portugal (Lisbon in particular) and you want to score some original Portuguese products, you should go to A Vida Portuguesa, Feira das Almas, Fabrica Features or LX factory, but you can read all about that (and more) in my Lisbon guide.

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SIBLINGS FACTORY

siblings factory via au pays des merveilles

Today I present you a new hotspot in the super hip Dansaert district of Brussels.  Siblings Factory is a new concept store, selling everything from beautiful clothing and accessories by brands such as Le Mont Saint Michel and Cacharel, to interesting magazines, gorgeous vintage furniture and design objects by architect Julien De Smedt, who is also responsible for the design of the store.  On top of that, they also organize art exhibitions (at the moment they are hosting an exhibition by Carine Brancowitz, which I’m dying to see) and they told me they were planning on making a coffee bar in the store as well.  If you’re still not convinced: they intend to donate a portion of their annual turnover to Afghanistan Demain, an association fighting for education for street children.  And… they have cacti for balustrades!  Enough said, now go take a look for yourself at 31 rue du Vieux Marché aux Grains in Brussels.

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KRACHTVOER

krachtvoer via au pays des merveilles

A few weeks ago, the girls behind Alle Dagen Honger organized a food festival named ‘Krachtvoer’ at DEstudio in Antwerp.  This two day festival consisted of documentaries, lectures, tastings, diners, workshops and expositions, all related to food.  Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to any documentaries or readings (I find it very interesting (and scary at the same time) to hear more about the food industry, it’s ecological impact is what convinced me to become a vegetarian) but I did manage to make a quick stop at the food market and the expositions.  The food was of course delicious and the location and decorations were stunning, as was the exposition with works of Alle Dagen Honger’s own illustrator Mayken Craenen (who’s work I’ve featured before here) and others.  For a more elaborate impression of the festival, I added the aftermovie at the bottom, made by my flatmate Mathijs Vleugels.

This was only the first edition of Krachtvoer, so keep an eye out on the Alle Dagen Honger blog (also in english here) if you want to stay up to date on future editions of Krachtvoer or if you’re interested in the food industry as a whole.

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WHERE TO GO IN LISBON

where to go in lisbon via au pays des merveilles

This is it, my ultimate guide to Lisbon!  (Finally, I’ve been back for over half a year from my five month erasmus in this wonderful city…) Every tip links back to the post(s) I orginally wrote about it or their website if I didn’t. I also added some places that I didn’t photograph, just to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.    If you’re wondering how a semi-local twenty-something spends her time in Lisbon, this is it!

(Oh and I appologise for my awful handwriting: I got myself a pen tablet to battle rsi and to save myself time from always writing things out on paper and scanning them, but obviously I still need some practice.  Hopefully soon you won’t be able to notice the difference between my handwriting on paper and with the tablet! )

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KAFFEE WELTEVREE

kaffee weltevree via au pays des merveilles

A new academic year means a new Existenz team and new Existenz cafés.  Since I don’t live in Leuven anymore, these cafés are the perfect excuse to go back and catch up with old friends.  (I even wished I could fly back for an evening of Existenz festivities when I was living in Lisbon.)  This year’s opening event was called Kaffee Weltevree and took place in the courtyard of our beloved castle (the home of Leuven’s architecture department).  The combination of the fairy tale like surroundings, the live music, the friends I hadn’t seen in a while and the obligatory beers resulted in a great evening.  I’ve called this city home for five and a half years and nights like this remind me why.

(You can find Existenz on facebook here to stay up to date with their activities.) Continue reading